Family appeals for donors after new heart saves their son's life

Lawrence McGinty

Former Science and Medical Editor

Joe Skerratt was given a new heart after a record time hooked up to an artificial one.

Three people will die today and you could help them to live.

Joe Skerratt will not be one of them, but he might easily have been one of the 1000 people a year who die on the transplant waiting list.

Joe has a rare genetic disease called Barth syndrome which affects only about 100 people world-wide.

Among other problems, it means he was born with a heart that was far too big and did not beat properly.

In fact, in his three short years of life, it stopped three times and he had to be resuscitated.

Last year, he was so bad he was taken into Great Ormond Street Hospital and put on an external artificial heart called a Berlin Heart.

For 251 days, it kept him alive beating once a second, until a donor could be found.

Now after his transplant Joe is as bright as a pin.

Not out of the woods yet, he needs to take drugs to stop his body rejecting the foreign heart, but on the mend.

Joe is on the mend after receiving a new heart

It certainly gives you a warm glow.

But think also of the 7612 people on the waiting list for a donor organ right now.

A lot of them will not make it.

Currently there are 18 million people on the donor registry.

If you helped double that number, you would double their chances of living.